‘Nothing So Strange’ At UC Irvine
Imagine sitting in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park on December 2, 1999 and witnessing the assassination of quite possibly the richest man in the world. He epitomizes money himself as he appropriately flaunts a huge check as he is shot dead.
UCI Alum and Director Brian Flemming kills off Microsoft king, Bill Gates, in his mocumentary, ‘Nothing So Strange’ to bring to life the power struggle between classes and to question the role of the police force and political figures in serving justice.
‘As far as a wealthy man being the victim of an assassination, it just seemed to me like the most plausible thing,’ Flemming said. ‘And with the connection between corporations and government getting tighter and tighter, who is more powerful, the leaders of corporations or elected officials? Certainly Bill Gates is more powerful than your average congressman. He certainly has more influence.’
Flemming presents the fictional assassination of Gates (Steve Sires) as a documentary that mirrors the JFK assassination and reflects the turmoil associated with the 60s and 70s.
”Nothing So Strange’ kind of tells like a big giant lie but the point of it is to get at the truth.’
The independent film centers around the activist group, Citizens for Truth, whose co-presidents David James (David James) and Debra Meagher (Laurie Pike), along with about 30 members, launch an investigation of the Gates assassination.
Citizens for Truth speculates that Alek Hidell, the accused assassin who coincidentally was killed by the LAPD, may not have been the only assassin or been guilty at all but could simply have been an African-American man at the wrong place at the wrong time. Citizens for Truth wants to be the voice for a fair trial for Alek Hidell.
The film makes references to real controversial historical events such as the Rodney King beating, the disapproval of Gil Garcetti and the police manipulation of a woman named Sandra Serrano who claimed that she heard people saying, ‘We shot him’ as they fled the scene of Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. After a lengthy and somewhat verbally abusive interrogation with police Serrano eventually changes her testimony from ‘We shot him’ to ‘they shot him.’
One aspect that gives the film the quality of a true life documentary stemmed from Flemming’s role as both the film’s director and cinematographer.
Flemming explained that because he was also shooting the film, most of his directing came in the form of e-mail correspondences among the cast members. This allowed for little direction, so Flemming came up with the framework for the movie but allowed the actors to naturally and organically write the movie as they acted out scenes.
‘It’s basically the actors writing the movie,’ Flemming said. ‘It was a really good cast, but you probably won’t see many of them because they aren’t stars.’
Flemming is not your typical amateur director looking to become part of the Hollywood limelight, but has a different vision for filmmaking.
‘Hollywood is obsessed with copyright and I’m not sure that’s very practical in this world where we’re entering where you can just copy everything,’ Flemming said. ‘I think the future is in making films for a lot less money and being a lot more liberal with copyright, and Hollywood’s not on board with either one of those things so I don’t really see trying to become part of their game.’
Flemming explained that the 90 hours of footage he shot is available online at his Web site for just 5 to 25 cents in order to cover the bandwidth cost. Flemming wants to see what someone else can do with his footage, in fact he highly encourages others to toy with the hours and hours of film.
‘Once you have the footage, you can use it wherever you want commercial production